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The Same Deep Water As You

by Solo & Jo

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Chapter 18

 

Saturday 04 October

It's six, and Jin's back at the club, and he hasn't thought about Kamenashi all day except to congratulate himself on not thinking about Kamenashi. On the amount of money he made. On getting Yuuya away from the crazy. On keeping it together, more or less. On getting out of there. Many things to be pleased about, and dwelling on the rest just makes no sense.

He slept well last night, too, didn't dream of the playground. That means all the stuff that almost happened didn't fuck him up, he's dealing.

He woke just after nine, jogged to the conbini with Jaejoong to get ume onigiri and two eggs for breakfast, stayed for workout in the empty gym, waved goodbye to Junno and wished him luck again, and then went home.

Treated himself to sea urchin sushi for lunch, then spent a few hours in the local library looking at magazines and newspapers. He also took home a couple of their outdated books on how apprenticeships work. It's way too early to get serious, but it'll help to know what's out there, to have some concrete things to think about.

He's felt fine all day, and the only weirdness has been realizing it every half hour or so with a little twist of surprise.

When he gets to the club, Takahisa is in the break room, chewing on an almond bar while he puts the final styling touches to his hair; maybe back from an assignment, maybe just in late, too.

"You missed the drug test, you lucky bastard," he says to Jin, his lips spreading in a wide congratulatory grin.

Jin taps the side of his nose. "Instinct," he says, and finds a satisfied smile, though he couldn't care less. The tests are random but frequent; anybody who happens to be in the break room and gym gets handed a tube, no big deal. It's just considered good form to whine. Not that these guys would even want to do drugs. Not that class of whore.

The STD test is more regular, once a month, with a white-coated doctor and formal appointments up to two hours before opening time. Nobody missed out, there, ever; even Kimura-senpai comes in for it.

Jin likes knowing that, likes the sense that there are no compromises on safety, even though he knows it's concern for the clients, not them, it's not like escorts expect to fuck each other or— he stops the thought.

Gets changed without thinking much more.

*~*~*

When he steps out of the elevator and around the screen, there's Kamenashi and it stops him dead, and then everything goes cold because…

Yuu-chan. Talking to Kamenashi.

No, Kamenashi talking to Yuu-chan. He's not given up. Has he really not given up?

It's a big lounge even though it's still half empty, and they're at the far end near the concierge where you book rooms, and Jin doesn't know what he'll do anyway, but by the time he's halfway there, Kamenashi is stepping back and bowing and Yuuya bows back and makes some gesture of denial, and what is this?

Kamenashi says a few words, stares into space, into— across the lounge, and his eyes settle on Jin. There's a still moment where it seems like space and air have been sucked away between them, like he can hear Kamenashi breathe right next to him… and then Kamenashi turns back to Yuuya, says something else. And then, with a final, smaller bow, Kamenashi turns and takes the remaining step to the concierge desk, and Jin's breath is just about to stop when Yuuya walks away. Back into the lounge, away from Kamenashi, away from where bookings are made.

Jin changes course, tries to keep an eye on Kamenashi while catching up with Yuuya. The concierge is bowing, then gesturing for one of the attendants. Yuuya is approaching a seating group.

"Yuuya." By now he's close enough that he doesn't have to shout.

Yuuya stops and turns toward him. Smiles. "Jin-senpai! How are you?"

"Fine," Jin says. "What did Kamenashi want? You turned him down?"

Now they're both looking after the man as he vanishes round the screens. No two guesses where he's going.

"He didn't want to book me," Yuuya says.

Now there's a blessing. Though Yuuya sounds puzzled rather than relieved.

"In fact," he is saying, "he apologized for booking me last night. And then he apologized for sending me away. He seemed kind of confused what to apologize for, really."

Apologized? Kamenashi?

"There's a new one," Jin says, vaguely, because his brain is still struggling to digest the new concept.

"He said it was awkward and he didn't handle it well and he's sorry he made me feel uncomfortable. He's going to see Ootomo to tell him it wasn't my fault."

Right. Someone belatedly sent him the script for Mr Nice, and he managed to learn the lines. Not like Jin hasn't seen him make that switch before.

"You're not going to trust him, right?" he says.

Yuuya is looking towards the screens thoughtfully. "If he means it about not wanting me, I won't have to. If not, I'll know he can't be trusted. Either way," he concludes, turning back to Jin, "no need to worry." He seems confident with his assessment. "It's a shame you were late and he didn't get a chance to speak to you."

"He saw me," Jin says, no more.

But Yuuya gets it at last. "Oh."

Jin would have preferred him to be on his guard on his own account, but he'll take anything, as long as Yuuya is no longer tempted to take Kamenashi's acts at face value.

"Don't worry about it," he says. "I won't worry about it. Just don't go thinking he's a nice guy now."

"I won't," Yuu-chan reassures him, big-eyed and solemn now and god, he looks all of fifteen. "I'll be careful."Jin nods. Okay, that's something. "You were going…" He motions with his head.

"Yeah, I better make a move. I was with these guys when Kamenashi dragged me away, and Koyama-sensei has just stopped blushing whenever I say something to him." Yuuya produces a big smile and waves at the history professor enthusiastically. Jin offers a respectful bow in his direction, and adds one for Kato-sensei.

"Go on then. Yamatani-san should be here soon, too."

A straightforward evening, easy chat with a genuine nice guy; an unproblematic comfort after, one that's like sex between two people, not like… whatever.

He'll take a relaxation later if one falls in his lap, but for once there's no sense of urgency. Maybe that's what it feels like when you're established and popular, when you don't have to take everything that comes in the door.

And he doesn't even have to dream up some way of hitting the right mix between appealing and unavailable for the next ten minutes because here is Yamatani. He greets the concierge with a nod as the door is closed discreetly behind him, turns to search the lounge floor and finds Jin.

He smiles, and Jin smiles back.

"The small red group is still free," Jin says when they've met up just past the dining area, indicating Yamatani's usual corner. "Or would you like to sit somewhere else?"

They rarely go upstairs straight away because Yamatani likes a first drink in the lounge, likes making it more than just fucking.

"That will be just fine," Yamatani says.

He stops briefly on their way there to exchange a few words and a slip of paper with Koyama, whose hand is on Yuuya's thigh by now, with Yuuya's hand on top to keep it there.

Then they settle in the corner with a brandy for Yamatani and a small beer for Jin, and Jin starts to relax while Yamatani tells him what he's been doing since Wednesday. Jin is constantly amazed at how busy a pensioner can be.

Jin doesn't have much to tell. He won't talk about Thursday nights at Tomo's bar, not even with Yamatani. He can't talk about last night. He doesn't want to mention the library visit because letting your client know that you can't wait to get out of the job isn't good form, either.

As always, he thinks he ought to read some good books so he'll be able to talk about them. As always, he knows as he thinks it that he won't bother.

Yamatani is telling him about a new conservatory he's having built in his country house and using the mini ashtray, his lighter and the silver coaster to demonstrate the layout. He's just asked to borrow Jin's lighter, too, when Yaguchi-san from the concierge desk approaches and bows deeply.

"Please, Yamatani-sama, if it's not inconvenient, may I borrow Jin for a short while?"

They both look up, but Yaguchi is only looking at Yamatani, who seems curious but, as always, patient at the interruption.

"He'll be back in fifteen minutes," Yaguchi adds. "If we may offer you a drink and some snacks on the house in the meantime?"

"Please," Yamatani says, giving Jin a smile, "go ahead. I'll be waiting for you."

Fuck.

When Kamenashi sailed up there, when Yuuya told him what had been said, he'd been able to discount it, to tell himself that Yuuya was all it was about, there was no reason to involve Jin, this wasn't about Jin.

But of course, with Kamenashi, it's always about Jin.

*~*~*

"Kamenashi-sama came to see me earlier," Ootomo says, barricaded behind his desk and a pile of tastefully leather-bound folders. It's freezing in his office as always during opening hours, when Ootomo has to wear the suit in case clients – like Kamenashi – come to see him to complain about whores.

Jin bows, and that seems to be all the answer Ootomo expects before he continues.

"He came to explain that a comfort appointment last night for which he had engaged Yuuya-san and yourself had not quite worked out." He's tapping his pen on top of a burgundy binder.

Jin bows again. Says nothing. There's nothing to say, and if Kamenashi blamed him for his precious gang rape cosplay coming off the rails… well. He'd be right.

"And to insist that neither Yuuya-san nor yourself were at fault for the discontinued double comfort," Ootomo says, and Jin bows again and—

Stops. It's sinking in.

Kamenashi did what?

When Jin raises his head he knows better than to show surprise, wouldn't want Ootomo to know he was expecting trouble because Ootomo would want to know why.

"He also," Ootomo continues slowly, "insisted on paying the full comfort fee for Yuuya-san, even though I understand that he sent Yuuya away and commuted your part in the appointment into a rest." The pen taps, tap-tap, tap. Ootomo is studying him.

Jin bows again.

"What is going on?" Ootomo asks.

To that, Jin has a straightforward answer. "I don't know."

Ootomo studies him some more. Thinks; seems to come to some decision, and he leans back in his chair and the tapping stops.

"Kamenashi-sama seems to think he handled the double comfort rather badly. Or that it was a bad idea to start on that in the first place."

Better with just the two of us. Right. "It was awkward."

"Yuuya says the atmosphere was rather charged."

So they called Yuu-chan in first. Kamenashi's sure taking up a lot of everybody's time. But least Yuu-chan will make some decent money out of his brush with the Kamenashi experience.

"Kamenashi-sama can get a bit intense," he says blandly. No criticizing the crazy psycho client.

"Focussed on you, Yuuya thought, and quite personal. He was worried about leaving the two of you alone."

"Kamenashi-sama doesn't like me," Jin says. "I guess Yuuya noticed."

Ootomo gives him a long, critical look, and then he leans forward again and it's back, tap-tap.

"If he doesn't like you," he says at last, "why does he keep on booking you?"

Jin manages a little shrug, keeps his face blank. He can't say that he thinks it's because Kamenashi needs a whore without management support for his humiliation games.

Ootomo thinks for a moment. "But you didn't try to turn him down again." Half a question, asking without asking. Right. Like Ootomo shouldn't know the answer to that one.

"No," Jin says, and it doesn't sound as flat as he thought it would. He doesn't try to add anything.

Ootomo's eyes are narrow, guarded. "Jin." He puts the pen down, flat on the folder. Folds his hands on the desk. "I know I brushed you off that first time. Maybe that was hasty. Now Yuuya seems concerned, too, and things are getting strange and I don't like that. If there's anything I should know, tell me."

What's to tell? This time it's not even tangible, not like belts and totally dandy Ootomo-approved bondage. Jin's issues don't matter to Ootomo; they all have sob stories here.

"I don't know what's going on." With a guy who flips from power trips to mellow fucking and from insults to wanting conversation, until the next time… it's never just one type of crazy. "He's kind of unstable."

"Yuuya said he seemed pleasant in the lounge previously."

Jin shrugs again. That's what unstable means. He wasn't too bad late last night, either, not that Jin had been in a position to appreciate it. "Stuff sets him off, I guess."

Ootomo looks slightly pained, as though he's used to greater eloquence. Probably is. "What kind of 'stuff'?"

"Search me. I never know." And just when he thinks he does, it doesn't work that way; when he thinks he's in trouble he's not, and he has no idea why.

"And then what does he do?"

Kamenashi close, hot, relentless, making him ask for things he doesn't want…

He's been okay, all day. Now, when he concentrates, he can feel Kamenashi's fingers twisting inside him, hear that insistent, knowing voice, and the air pressing in on him and Kamenashi everywhere. Why did Ootomo have to ask?

Jin takes a breath, hopes it doesn't sound weird.

"Nothing outside the rules," he says. That's what matters to Ootomo, and that's how much he's willing to tell; for once they're on the same page. "Not ever. You'd know about it."

"Okay," Ootomo says. Considers that, repeats it. "Okay. If he approaches you in the lounge, I won't complain if you turn him down, though I expect you to be polite about it. We'll consult you about outside appointments."

Jin's still taking it in, but he nods.

"Has he tried to tie you up again?"

"No."

"Good. Maybe he's over that. But if he tries, refuse and refer him to me. I don't want one of our escorts involved in any unpleasantness."

Ootomo's word for 'found dead in a ditch', but for once Jin can live with the prettification.

"What about Yuuya?" he says.

"Yuuya will no doubt keep out of Kamenashi-sama's way. Given how busy he generally is, that should not be a great problem."

"But if Kamenashi asks for him—"

"Jin." Ootomo picks the pen up again. It circles once between his fingers before it stills. "I spoke to Tatsuya-san, too. I even gave Kimura-san a call. Neither of them have ever found Kamenashi-sama anything but polite and considerate. Yuuya thought he was fine until the three of you got together." He steeples his fingers, waits.

"It's me," Jin says, to a dull throb of confirmation. Not like he didn't know, didn't guess. If Kamenashi did this with everybody, word would have got around. He wouldn't be the regular of people like Tatsuya and Kimura-senpai.

"Like you said," Ootomo says gently. "He doesn't seem to like you."

Jin stares at Ootomo; thinks of Kamenashi meditating over a beer bottle, of Kamenashi talking about the weather. "Then why the hell does he keep booking me?"

*~*~*

It feels strange, to know that there's some protection now, that somebody is keeping an eye on him. Him and Kamenashi.

Back in the lounge, he lets Yamatani buy him a large glass of Pinot Noir and for once he drinks it all, lets it sink in while they pick up their chat about the conservatory and how much the cats will like it. That he's not the only one who sees a problem here, that he's no longer facing the crazy client all alone…

…that if there's another problem with Kamenashi, management is likely to back him.

"You look happy," Yamatani says, regarding him with friendly interest over the rim of his own glass. "Did something good happen?"

Jin can't talk about clients, even crazy ones. But he doesn't have to hide he's happy. "There was a thing that worried me," he says. "For a while. But I've just found out I don't have to worry anymore."

Yamatani smiles, face wrinkling even more in delight. "That must be such a relief. It's terrible, having to worry for a long time. And so exhausting." For a moment he looks thoughtful, reminiscent. Then he tilts his head and smiles again. "Would you like to cancel tonight, so you can celebrate properly? I promise I won't feel rejected."

Jin blinks, stares at him, probably looks like an idiot. It just hadn't occurred to him… that it would occur to anybody… when he himself hadn't even for a moment considered it.

He smiles. "An appointment with you is the nicest celebration I'm likely to get."

*~*~*

He's out after two hours anyway, and that includes the fancy seafood dinner Yamatani bought them before fucking, and the shower Jin took afterwards. He even took the time to fix himself up again right there; it's okay, with Yamatani, and they chatted about his daughter-in-law and her pet pekingese while he did it. Yamatani didn't mention worries or celebrations again. Yamatani is good with stuff like that.

Jin heads back to the break room, just to take a few minutes to psych himself back up for the lounge. The room's almost empty, typical for a Saturday. People really only come here for a quick breather, or for a shower between one client and the next. He picks a bottle of tea out of the fridge.

Tatsuya is wearing a clubbing outfit, tight and black with a few metal glints, and is just finishing the application of subtle eyeliner. Jun has a towel wrapped around himself, the warm scent of mandarines coming off his skin. Masaki is dressed up and ready to go – again, Jin suspects – and is fumbling at the clasp of the fat, ugly gold watch he's wrapped around his wrist.

"Tamori again?" Jin says; not even a guess, because Masaki wouldn't wear the tasteless piece otherwise.

Masaki rolls his eyes in a comical way. "What can I say, it's love."

Jin snorts, and Masaki giggles.

"I might give this horrible thing to whoever wins the pool," he says. "You can sell it or something."

"Not me," Jin says, "I'm already out."

Masaki pouts. "I'm hurt, Jin. Think I can't keep my man for more than two months?"

Tamori is an outside client who is officially 'in love' with Masaki. It happens, every so often – a client gets infatuated, showers the escort with presents, and there are declarations of devotion and promises of a life together until one day it's over. Just when that day will come, they can't know, but that's what the betting pool is for.

"I'm still in," Jun says smugly, inspecting a black thong he's pulled from his holdall to see which way round it should go. "He looks like the angst-for-a-month kind of guy. I give him till just before Christmas."

"That's a lot of flowers and jewelry," Jin considers.

"And that ghastly eau de cologne," Jun says.

"It's shirts right now," Masaki says. "Got a nice cream one the other day. Raw silk."

"If it goes on to New Year, you'll be breaking Jun's record," Tatsuya says with a last glance in the mirror before he tidies his equipment away. "Jun's pride will be hurt."

"What," Jun says, "the puppy?" He adjusts himself in the flimsy piece of underwear, then reaches for a shirt. "That was nothing to be proud of, he'd have gone with anyone who figured out he wanted to bottom and was too macho to say so." He sighs down his buttons at how hard some people make their lives. "I just got him there first. He imprinted."

"I thought those were ducks?" Jin tries.

Jun gives him a little grin. "Geese," he says. "Well, he's got a long neck."

"Last I heard he graduated to Hina," Masaki says, slinging the discreet club satchel over his shoulder.

"Has he?" Jun is frowning at his socks now. "Won't last. He just wants to get fucked, not lick boots."

Jin's finished his tea. The conversation isn't fascinating enough to stick around for.

He takes a last look in the mirror, makes sure he looks okay. Adds lip gloss because he's not keen on more than a relaxation now, and sometimes that helps give people the right idea.

At least he can be pretty sure that Kamenashi won't be around tonight.

In the lounge, he joins a seating group with a few guys he's seen but not had before, because the only current alternative is a group including Suzuki, who definitely likes his mouth but whom Jin prefers not to have there. He won't turn Suzuki down, but he won't chase him down, either, not when he isn't desperate, not after a rest, and maybe the thirteen guys he won't have to blow can all be Suzuki. By now, he can even smile about that.

He introduces himself to the client who isn't currently making intrigued eyes at Danny or giggling with Satoshi, and then it's the usual conversational gambits: does he come here often and how does he like it, and Jin gets bought a drink, and then he learns a lot about breeding fish.

Somewhere between ecosystems, nests and spawning tanks, he notices Sakurai at the bar and his stomach does a little dip. And then he's really annoyed.

Because he shouldn't have to feel like that and that's a chance that didn't have to be wasted, Sakurai was a decent guy, and Kamenashi… didn't have that much to do with it, really. Jin blew that chance. And it's not like he doesn't know why, and he didn't have it together then, but that doesn't make it less annoying.

He nods on autopilot when his prospective client's tone seems to require it, and adds something about how guppies have pretty tails.

Maybe he should just go talk to Sakurai again. To prove he won't let Kamenashi get to him in that way and he's been fine today, he's got it together.

And weirdly, it seems like it would be easy just to go up to the man and find some excuse and make it properly… and Jin stops to wonder what else will seem easy now.

When there's a break in the talk of yolk sacs and infusoria, he excuses himself, says, "Just for three minutes, there is something I need to clear up." He even manages a vaguely smouldering look. "I promise I will be back."

He doesn't give himself much time to think as he approaches Sakurai, who's still alone, waiting for company or enjoying the quiet; Jin only slows down a few paces from the man's barstool so it doesn't look like he's descending on him, and waits at a respectful distance until he gets noticed. It doesn't take long.

He bows. "Sakurai-san, may I have a very quick word?"

Sakurai, attractive in stylish slacks and a dark green shirt, looks good-naturedly curious and nods at the seat next to his.

Jin slides onto it. "I don't have long, I'm supposed to be over there—" He gestures subtly. "— but I saw you and I wanted to explain my strange behaviour the other night."

Sakurai nods, with a reserved sort of interest. "You seemed a little confused all of a sudden."

"Yes," Jin says. "I had a headache all night and I'd taken something during the break, but the effect suddenly faded and the lights got too much and I couldn't think. It happened very suddenly. It was stupid of me to come back into the lounge after my break, and I apologize for being weird."

"It's not a problem," Sakurai says. "I was just a bit puzzled. I didn't take offense."

"Thank you." Jin rises; he shouldn't keep Mr Fish waiting. "I'm really glad to hear that. I hope you have a nice evening." He bows deeply.

"Don't go getting any more headaches," Sakurai says with a smile.

Jin smiles back. "I'll try not to."

No more belts and ties. And he can turn the asshole down. Management is backing him. He thinks the headache stage is over.

~

Chapter 19

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